Why Hating Evangelicalism Is No Longer Provocative

Derek Rishmawy at CAPC wrote one of the better social commentaries on this “trend” of dumping on modern evangelicalism. In his post How to Write a Hugely-Popular Piece for Huffington Post Religion Rishmawy offers four tips for getting your religion blog posted on the Huffington Post’s site:

  1. Insist that “Evangelicalism needs to learn…”
  2. “I know because I used to be an Evangelical until…”
  3. Bravely Flirt with a Heresy
  4. Call Someone a Bigot

If I have read one book, blog post, journal article, etc… I have read 400 books, journal articles, blog posts that fit this format. Here are just a few authors that come to mind: Randall Balmer, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Mel White, Rachel Held Evans.

From a historical perspective, these kinds of written pieces were once truly provocative and risky.  Those who were coming out of evangelicalism truly had beef with bad leadership, hateful communities, and rigid theology (Think Westboro Baptist Church).  When these early prophets spoke out, their voices were few and the threat of backlash was immense.   My heart goes out to them for their awful experiences. These early path makers were like Indiana Jones during The Last Crusade scene where Indy had to walk across the invisible bridge.  Their steps were steps of faith, hoping that their messages would resonate with a voiceless majority sitting silently in the pews.

That was then.  But now…? It is my observation that those who write these kinds of pieces now are like the rest of Indiana Jones’ party after he has spread the sand to reveal the pathway across the chasm.  It doesn’t take any faith.  There is no real risk.  They are a minority voice that is blasting evangelicalism to the deafened and white noised eardrums of a crowd that has heard it all before.

So, sure.  Huff Post will publish these kinds of posts.  That is to be commended for those who get published.  They are just working the available market.  It is shrewd and well played.  But, don’t confuse these published posts for something provocative.  Posts that bash evangelicalism are a dime a dozen and will fail to achieve their objective because:

  1. Evangelicals won’t see the burden to learn something new from . . .
  2. . . . a “used to be evangelical” voice who may or may not have really ever been a Christian.
  3. Evangelicals will increasingly overlook people who are bringing up old heresies.
  4. The word “bigot” has lost all cultural impact due to overusage and no longer requires defense of actions and attitudes.

About Doug Hankins

Although not a Christian in his youth, Doug came to believe in Jesus during his teenage years. When not playing sports or pastoring Doug is probably spending time with his wife, reading a good book, or drinking some hot tea. Doug's first book Dawson Trotman: In His Own Words is available wherever books are sold. You can follow Doug on twitter.
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